Today is All Saints day.
Agnes and Maria Goretti were only 12 when they were martyred; Anthony of the desert died at 105. God’s Saints come in every size, shape, color and age. Some saints are remembered by name, but most are unknown to us. Known or unknown, honored or forgotten, they have one great thing in common: during their lives, all helped to announce the dominion of God.
The idea of holding one feast to celebrate all holy women and men seems to have been born in the early centuries of Christianity. In the Latin rite, in 844 Pope Gregory IV set November 1 as a date for a festival in honor of all the saints. Why this date was chosen is something of a mystery. Historians tell us that there were pre-Christian feasts on this day: a pagan Roman festival for the fruit harvest, and the Celtic New Year – a celebration of the harvest of the dead.
Whatever reason, All Saints’ Day is a celebration perfectly suited to autumn. We celebrate God’s great harvest of all people throughout history who have shown love, joy and service to others. That’s why All Saints’ and its holy eve, Halloween, are made bright with autumn fruits vegetables and flowers.￼￼ All Saints’ Day is begun with a night of trick-or-treating. People give and receive hospitality, the hallmark virtue of the Saints.￼
The number of canonized saints is relatively small. But today is something far more than a remembrance of the good people who lived on earth. Today we rejoice in the communion of saints. We are part of this communion. All creation is united in the Spirit. We link arms with all the people of every time in place. We look forward to the day of resurrection, the final day, when creation will be transformed. Perhaps our celebration actually hastens that great day.
Happy All Saints’ Day!